Like much of the world, many American seniors use the Internet to connect with family, play games, watch videos, and find information. Additionally, many seniors rely on the Internet for their safety and accessibility devices, such as home security and medical alert systems.
Now more than ever, it is essential for seniors to have dependable Internet service in their homes.
Of the many options for home Internet service, AT&T is one of the most popular. Alexander Graham Bell initially founded AT&T in 1885 as the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. With well over a century in the trade, AT&T has expanded to include cellular and television services—as well as some of the fastest Internet available. Let’s take a look at what options are available from AT&T Internet.
What Can AT&T Internet Offer Me
AT&T boasts a rate of 99 percent reliability in its Internet, which translates to less lost connections. Though this company does not offer a senior discount at this time, the Internet packages they offer can still be considered a great value, especially considering the included extras such as the AT&T Smart Home Manager app and Internet Security Suite.
AT&T Smart Home Manager
The AT&T Smart Home Manager is an app that allows users to completely manage their network and devices, as well as set parental controls, run a speed test on your connection, and completely reboot your system with just a tap!
AT&T Internet Security Suite
Another great perk is the AT&T Internet Security Suite. This software, powered by McAfee (a trusted brand in cybersecurity), is included free with most AT&T Internet packages. The AT&T Internet Security Suite will protect your computer from viruses, potential hackers, and spyware. You can also use this software for computer health checks and overall security management.
Expert Tip: Parental controls on Internet access aren’t just limited to keeping the young ones out of trouble. Many parent control programs allow users to create screen-time limits, disable access for certain devices, and limit the content your guests can access at your home.
Can AT&T Cover Me?
At this time, AT&T Internet (wired and WiFi) offers coverage in 21 states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. On the other hand, AT&T’s wireless services cover the majority of the U.S. These services can include wireless Internet via data use. However, you would only be able to use this Internet via phones or tablets associated with an AT&T wireless plan. Powering other devices through wireless connection will likely incur high data charges.
AT&T Internet & TV Bundles
When shopping for Internet packages, many seniors may choose to bundle their home Internet with TV cable service and/or home phone service. This way, all of your communication costs arrive tidily in one monthly bill.
AT&T currently offers two packages: Internet + AT&T TV Entertainment Package and the Internet + DIRECTV Entertainment package. Though close in price, the packages vary in included content. Both packages require a two year contract, with prices subject to change in the second year. If you are renting an Internet modem from AT&T, you will also incur a fee of $10/mo.
|Internet + AT&T TV Entertainment||$94.99/mo.|
+$19.95 activation fee
|Internet + DIRECTV Entertainment||$99.99/mo.|
+$19.95 activation fee
Though both packages offer high-speed Wi-Fi, it seems to me that the Internet+DIRECTV package is a better value. At just $5 more a month, you get over 100 more channels, plus you can access those channels through the DIRECTV app using your smartphone or tablet. This means you can take your favorite shows with you wherever you go. Additionally, DIRECTV no longer requires a satellite dish, so there’s no need to worry about outdoor placement or pesky upkeep.
If you’d like to upgrade either package to include more channels, there are options to suit your needs. You can always add channels by contacting the AT&T hotline or by managing your plan on their website or through the myAT&T app.
Expert Tip: If you don’t think you need cable television, or you tend towards streaming services like Netflix, you can opt for a digital media player such as Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV. These devices connect to your television and use the Internet to offer a wide range of free and paid streaming apps, such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max.
An Overview of AT&T’s Offerings
As a founding establishment in U.S. communication, AT&T offers some of the most advanced cellular, Internet, and television options out there.
You may already use AT&T (or know someone who does) for cellular phone service. The AT&T cellular network has been considered the best U.S. network for three years in a row. Qualities considered included: download speed, loading times, voice quality, and connection speed. AT&T offers phones for purchase and rent, tablets, computers, smartwatches, and WiFi hotspots for use with its award-winning U.S. network. There are also options for prepaid phones or converting your existing cellular phone for use with their network.
For those who prefer traditional home phones, AT&T offers landline service with unlimited local calls. They also offer bundles that can tie-in home phone service with television and the Internet.
Expert Tip: Though many seniors have completely transitioned from home phone to cellular phones in recent years, I still consider a secure landline to be a relatively low-cost safety measure. Cellphones can easily become lost or damaged, and those in more rural areas may experience spotty reception. I personally recommend having both a landline and a cell phone, so you’ll be able to contact who you need to—no matter what situation you may find yourself in.
How to Purchase AT&T Internet
In the past, it was common to go directly into brick and mortar stores to secure communication services such as cellular, home phone, television, and Internet. Now, you can accomplish this without even stepping outside.
If you are interested in AT&T services, you can easily speak to a live agent via the AT&T customer service hotline. Your agent will be able to answer any questions you may have and suggest packages suited to your needs. You can also purchase your Internet, TV, and phone services online using AT&T’s customer service chat to answer any lingering questions. Personally, I’d prefer the online option—especially since there are often bonus discounts or perks included with online purchases.
There are many AT&T Internet packages, all priced between $35 and $60 a month. These prices do not include equipment costs or taxes, which vary by state.
The equipment you’ll need to access Internet service is called a modem. Your modem will usually be a small, slim box (easy to place discreetly in the home). The modem connects to the Internet through a coax cable or fiber cable. Fiber cables are used for higher speed connections.
AT&T Equipment costs around $10 to rent per month. You can also opt to use your existing router if it is compatible. Before installation, I would ask your AT&T representative or technician to see if your current router will work.
Let’s take a look at the Internet packages available through AT&T.
AT&T Internet Packages
|AT&T Internet Basic||$45/mo.|
|0.8Mbps-5Mbps||Email, social networking, web surfing, downloading small files|
|AT&T Internet||$35-$45 /mo.|
|10Mbps-100Mbps||Streaming videos, HD, downloading, gaming, sharing large files (such as videos and software)|
|AT&T Internet with Fiber||$35-60 a month|
|100Mbps-940Mbps||Connected homes, home offices, online gaming sharing, and downloading many files and HD videos|
There are three categories of Internet offered through AT&T: Internet Basic, Internet, and Internet with Fiber. Each category has varying speed options, depending on how you’d like to use your Internet. As you can see, the basic Internet packages are best for those who don’t plan to use the Internet for more than simple communication and web surfing. For seniors who often video chat with friends and family, and for those who prefer a high-definition viewing experience with online videos, I’d suggest going with at least a speed of 100 Mbps.
AT&T Installation Process
If you’ve decided to go ahead with AT&T services, you will be asked to make an appointment for installation by an AT&T technician. This service may take around four hours and will require someone 18 or older to be present.
The process itself requires uninstalling any pre-existing equipment and connections (from your previous Internet/cable provider), installing AT&T compliant equipment, test-running the network, and demonstrating at-home usage.
If you have experience installing your own Internet, you can ask to go the self-installation route. Though some may find this to be a fun challenge, I personally prefer to have an expert come in. Installing new equipment may come with some hiccups—especially as this equipment frequently changes due to technological advancement.
Access from AT&T Program
For those on a low income who can’t quite fit Internet service into their budget, AT&T offers the Access program, which includes free in-home Wi-Fi installation and low monthly rates ($10/mo or less). You must fill out an online application to see if you qualify for Access. Those who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or receive low-income from their current employment are most likely to receive it. Unfortunately, AT&T does not currently consider those on a fixed income via Social Security benefits as eligible for Access.
Similar to the Access program, AT&T Lifeline offers a discount on Internet, home phone, and wireless phone services to those qualifying low-income households. Qualifying customers will receive a discount of at least $5.25 off their phone bill or $9.25 off their Internet bill per month. To qualify, you must be benefiting from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, living on a federally recognized Tribal land, or have a household income below the federal poverty line.
AT&T Internet Accessories
AT&T offers a wealth of accessories and equipment to make your Internet experience even more convenient. Two options you may want to consider are the wireless extender and mobile hotspot.
Though many people don’t have issues connecting to their wireless in most areas of their home, those with larger homes or outdoor living spaces may want to invest in a wireless extender. This gadget can increase your Wi-Fi network coverage up to 1,000 square feet. An extender can also be helpful to those who frequently utilize their basements or have multi-storied homes.
If you’re often on the go and don’t want to compromise your connectivity, another helpful option is securing a Wi-Fi hotspot through AT&T. This little device is almost magical—turn it on wherever you may find yourself to have access to your own private network! Great to have on hand for traveling, Wi-Fi hotspots operate via cellular data rather than a cable connection—so you may need a separate plan to cover usage.
With so many choices out there for seniors to consider, finding the best home Internet service can be difficult. If you are living in AT&T’s coverage area, there are options for all levels of Internet use. While AT&T does not offer an explicit senior discount, there are options that are well suited to the needs of older adults.
You can get a basic Internet package for minimal communication and connectivity, go with higher speed service for HD video streaming, or simply settle somewhere in the middle. As the majority of seniors are using the Internet in their daily lives, it’s important to consider what role you’d like the Internet to play in your household.
AT&T Internet Frequently Asked Questions
- Does AT&T provide any senior discounts?
Though AT&T does not provide a senior discount for home Internet packages, they do offer special discounts for cellular plans. The AT&T Unlimited 55+ cellular plan includes unlimited talk, text, and data for $40/mo per line (with a limit of two lines). With most unlimited phone plans ranging from $60-$90/mo, this is a great discount offered to those of a certain age.
- What if AT&T Internet isn’t available where I live?
Though AT&T is seeking to expand its Internet service availability, it is still available in only 21 states in the U.S. If you are not within the covered area of AT&T Internet, there are still many options for home Internet you can explore: such as Xfinity (previously Comcast) or Cox.
- What is the difference between the Internet I use on my phone and Wi-Fi?
Many seniors I speak with rely solely on their smartphones for Internet access. While most smartphones have Internet capability for common tasks such as surfing the web and video-chatting, those who use the Internet throughout their day will find that relying on your smartphone for Internet connection can incur high data costs. Additionally, Internet access via smartphone largely operates at a much slower speed than home Internet connections.